Contents & Abstracts
Introduction : The
Role Of Land-Use Planning In Disaster Risk Reduction:
An Introduction To Perspectives From Australasia
by Bruce C. Glavovic
This introductory article sets the scene for this Special Issue about the role of land-use planning in disaster risk reduction in Australasia. Proactive natural hazards planning enables communities to understand disaster risk and make decisions that promote their safety, resilience and sustainability. Despite the prevalence of natural hazards in Australasia, and efforts to institutionalise natural hazards planning, the promise of natural hazards planning remains elusive. Moreover, there is a paucity of scholarly research on this subject in this region. Synthesising key findings from natural hazards planning scholarship, primarily from the United States of America, this paper describes the nature of disaster risk, the role that land-use planning can play in building more sustainable, hazard-resilient communities, and introduces the papers in this Special Issue.
The failure of federal, state and local governments in the United States to engage in pre-event planning for post-disaster recovery has several negative consequences: 1) following a disaster it is unclear who is in charge of community recovery; 2) land use planning tools and collaborative techniques are underutilized; 3) the collection and analysis of data is not effectively linked to the creation of policy options; and 4) the nexus between hazard mitigation, sustainable development and disaster resilience remains uncertain. While these problems are endemic to the United States, a critique of the existing disaster recovery process is intended to provide important lessons for others so that similar mistakes can be avoided and planning for post-disaster recovery is more widely recognized and embraced by others, including the professional land use planner.
The New Zealand policy and legal setting for land-use planning provides a robust foundation for reducing hazard risks. But much remains to be done to improve hazards planning policy and practice in New Zealand. This article starts by describing the setting within which natural hazards planning takes place. Five critical issues are identified and priority actions are recommended for realising the potential of land-use planning to reduce hazard risks: (i) Improve understanding about the nature of hazards; (ii) Prioritise Reduction measures; (iii) Provide national guidance for communities exposed to repeat events and confront the relocation issue; (iv) Mainstream climate change adaptation; and (v) Facilitate cooperative hazards governance.
In the North Island of New Zealand a number of active volcanoes exist that could reawaken or erupt at any time. The location of urban areas within and near these volcanic areas constitutes a significant peril. Given the close proximity of settlements to active volcanoes, it is essential that communities and governing authorities understand the nature of volcanic hazards and make plans for mitigating the associated risk. Mitigation can occur in a variety of ways including employing structural measures (e.g., by employing engineering solutions), emergency management processes, or land use planning. Currently land use planning is an underutilised approach for mitigating volcanic risk. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the hazards posed by New Zealand’s volcanic landscape, and to highlight the important role that land use planning can play in reducing volcanic risk. New Zealand and international case studies are presented and the paper concludes with a synthesis of challenges and opportunities for reducing volcanic hazard risk through land use planning.
Coastal erosion and its associated hazards to property and infrastructure and the debates that emerge over remedial measures cause conflict that requires negotiated solutions involving all key stakeholders. A series of New Zealand case studies is presented and indicates that positive or negative environmental outcomes are largely the result of how the negotiation proceeds, who is involved, how resource management agencies behave and the nature of the physical environment. Positive outcomes emerge when: Cooperative relationships are established, learning and trust are developed, risks are addressed, scientific input is managed, lobby groups are defused, contending interests are reconciled, and records are kept of the negotiation process and agreements reached.
Building sustainable, hazard-resilient communities is a challenging imperative. Meaningful community involvement in planning for and managing hazard risks is the starting point for meeting this challenge. This research presents lessons learned from community-based emergency management experiences in the Northland region of New Zealand. The Northland experience is described through a case study of the Kaitaia Community Response Plan process. This experience and the lessons learned are discussed in the context of international experience in community involvement in natural hazards planning and collaborative planning more generally.
This paper presents the case for the integration of social assessments into emergency and disaster risk management planning. Post disaster studies, social assessments and social impact assessments are all closely related activities. However, post disaster studies are obviously after the event whereas social assessments and social impact assessments ideally should be undertaken before an event occurs. This paper identifies the linkages between social impact assessments as pre-event activities, post-disaster impact assessments as post event activities, the types of variables that need to be considered, and the different types of methodologies that might be used. The linkage to pre-event assessments and the role of planning in disaster mitigation is also made. A classification of disaster impacts is presented that identifies different timescales and methodologies of impact studies. From this an approach to social assessment for disasters is identified that may guide both the methodology and the assessments within the context of pre-existing vulnerability and mitigation strategies.
Discussion of climate change adaptation is gaining increased prominence in sustainability policy and the academic literature. A key factor in the selection of climate adaptation initiatives is the understanding of vulnerability. However, past approaches to understanding climate change vulnerability have largely focused on assessments of exposure (e.g., change in temperature), to the exclusion of assessments of sensitivity (e.g., regions with an aging population) or adaptive capacity (e.g., the ability to implement adaptation initiatives). The authors argue that an understanding of adaptive capacity is critical to inform climate change vulnerability and to help prioritise climate change adaptation initiatives. The authors propose an approach to understand adaptive capacity, which is currently being applied in South East Queensland.
PICs are exposed to a wide range of natural hazards. Despite this it appears that traditionally communities coped relatively well and in many ways Pacific community remain remarkably resilient, especially in rural areas. Nevertheless, colonialism resulted in the decline of many activities that contributed to resilience. This was reinforced by the provision of disaster relief which has intensified in the post-colonial era. In this same period regional activities and steps by newly independent countries have seen the development of solid institutional arrangements for disaster management (mostly in the form of preparedness planning). However, measures to reduce disaster losses by incorporating risk reduction into national planning activities and decision-making have received little support to date from national governments. At the same time urbanisation is increasing rapidly in many PICs, but there has been a low level of implementation of effective urban planning and management, let alone disaster risk management. Moves are being made at the regional level to address these problems but are at an early stage.
The papers in this Special Issue explore different aspects of natural hazards planning in Australasia. This concluding paper synthesises from these papers four strategic issues for realising the promise of natural hazards planning in Australasia, namely (i) undertake pre-event planning for sustainability, disaster risk reduction and post-disaster recovery; (ii) mainstream natural hazards planning to address low probability events and climate change in day-to-day land-use planning and management; (iii) focus more attention on the social dimensions of natural hazards; and (iv) increase the emphasis on natural hazards governance.
Massey University, New Zealand
5 February, 2010